Luke Dow Law Firm

How Often Do Wrong-Site, Wrong-Procedure, Wrong-Patient Errors Occur in Hospitals?

By Luke Dow on June 08, 2017

Despite advancements in surgical tools and techniques, mistakes still happen in the operating room—and they often have devastating consequences for patients. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality identifies three types of surgical “never events” that should not occur under any circumstances. They include wrong-site, wrong-procedure, and wrong-patient errors (WSPEs).

It is difficult to determine how often WSPEs happen because, according to a 2008 review, healthcare providers only report about 10 percent of these errors. However, most sources estimate that WSPEs occur in about 1 in 112,000 surgeries.

It should come as no surprise that operating on the wrong body part, performing the wrong procedure, or operating on the wrong patient can cause serious complications. If you or a member of your family was a victim of a surgical error, contact the Luke Dow Law Firm to find out if you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Call 512-518-4104 to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer in Austin.

CNN: At Least 7 WSPEs Occur Every Day in the United States

Research cited by CNN shows that surgeons in the United States make approximately 2,700 wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong patient errors every year, which means about 7 WSPEs occur daily. CNN also profiled a six-year study that revealed WSPEs account for about 0.5 percent of all surgical errors.

Poor communication among the surgical team is a leading cause of WSPEs. To reduce the prevalence of these errors, a Universal Protocol was introduced by The Joint Commission in 2004. The protocol involves a “time-out” before the procedure so all members of the surgical team can review the critical components of the operation.

How Can Patients Reduce the Risk of WSPEs?

As a patient, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of a surgical error occurring. First, ask to speak with your surgeon before your operation. Before you undergo anesthesia, discuss the specifics of your procedure to ensure you and the surgeon are on the same page.

You should also discuss your operation with anesthesiologists, nurses, and other medical workers with whom you interact on the day of your procedure; however, do not let a nurse or anyone except your surgeon mark the surgical site. This will reduce the risk of miscommunication in the operating room.

If you or a member of your family was a victim of a WSPE or suffered an unexpected complication after a surgical procedure, contact the Luke Dow Law Firm. Although no amount of compensation can undo the emotional trauma caused by a medical error, you may be able to recover compensation for lost income, healthcare bills, and non-economic damages by filing a medical malpractice claim.

Call 512-518-4104 today to schedule a free initial consultation with an injury attorney in Austin. If you would like to learn more about medical malpractice claims in Texas, visit the USAttorneys website.


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